Tag: Opinion & Commentary

Listen Up: Pope Calls for the Replacement of Fossil Fuels, Renewable Energy and Solar Subsidies

We’re talking about religion this week. Did I get your attention? How about if we talk about climate change, more renewable energy, dirty fossil fuels and solar subsidies? Okay, we’ve already covered these topics. But now the Pope has chimed in with his “On Care For Our Common Home” Encyclical. I’m probably the worst person to comment on this 180 page Encyclical (I got kicked out of Hebrew School). There is no doubt in my mind that the Pope’s analysis and commentary will definitely affect U.S. politics related to clean energy.

Corporate Speed Dating: Coupling India’s Smart Cities with Smart Investment for Sustainability

Building off nearly 10 months of extensive public and private sector consultation, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began in April to green-light initial projects under the country’s Smart Cities Initiative (SCI). The SCI benchmarks, formulated in response to rapid urban population growth, aim to modernize environmentally sustainable transport, housing, utility, and connectivity services for 100 new or refurbished cities across the subcontinent.

The Rapid Rise of Residential Energy Storage

Energy storage is heralded as the critical technology that will make widespread adoption of renewable energy possible. Storage bottles sunlight, addressing a key drawback to solar energy — that it can’t provide electricity when the sun isn’t shining. Energy storage also cures additional utility ailments from grid resiliency to power smoothing.

Behavioral Economics and the Solar PV Industry

Behavioral economic theory holds that human interactions are complex and that economic motivations include nuance beyond that of maximizing utility. This is certainly true of the global solar industry as throughout its history it has interacted within a context of here-one-day-gone-the-next incentives and subsidies, expectations of significant price drops, competition with well-subsidized conventional energy technologies as well as a continuing perception among many that solar remains a science experiment.

Solar industry participants have a preference for very big numbers and forecasts as well as for optimistic outlooks for the future.  Any deviation from the celebration of really big numbers or any notion that strays from the optimistic status quo is typically ignored. 

Cherry-picking facts — be they optimistic or pessimistic — to make a point without considering context and nuance, will almost always lead to poor decision-making. 

Intersolar Europe 2015: Spirits Up, Stats Down

Intersolar Europe, billed at the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry, is indeed big. But Intersolar Europe 2015, one of five Intersolar-branded gatherings around the globe each year, was not as large as the annual convergence to the German birthplace of the solar age used to be.

Listen Up: Does Solar Increase the Value of my House?

I bet you don’t know that there is a home improvement investment that you can make that will increase the value of your house more than the investment cost. It’s not remodeling your bathroom (2 percent return). It’s not landscaping with a designer (break even). It’s not remodeling your kitchen (2 percent loss). It’s rooftop solar (43 percent return). Surprise!

Is Utility-Scale Solar Growth Economically Viable?

The recent growth in utility-scale solar has been explosive in relative terms. Because the start point was so low however, this still represents a small proportion of global electricity generation — about one third of 1 percent as last month’s article showed. This will grow dramatically if the growth rate is maintained; and that in turn will require solar to become ever more competitive with other generation technologies.

Listen Up: Charging Your Electric Vehicle

Electric vehicles are great: they’re affordable, great for the environment and low maintenance. And where electric rates are low — or if you have rooftop solar power — EVs are cheaper to drive per mile than gas-powered cars. But you have to think about how you will charge your EV: there are only a few thousand public charging locations in the U.S. compared to 100,000 gas stations.

State and Metro Governments, Consumer Actions Drive Dramatic Shift in US Energy Landscape

The United States is experiencing a significant shift in its energy landscape. Last year, utility-scale wind and solar power combined for 47 percent of new generation capacity in the U.S. Based on this expansion, 11 states now generate more than 10 percent of their electricity from solar, wind, and geothermal power, with three of these states — Iowa, South Dakota, and Kansas — exceeding 20 percent. In 2014, California became the first state in the nation to garner 5 percent of its electricity from utility-scale solar. When including hydropower, four states —Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and South Dakota — now exceed 70 percent renewables generation.